This is my first pencil review. With that I should add the caveat: I am not a regular pencil user. This review will come more from the perspective of a pencil newbie. It won't have the wisdom of comparing to other models, but it also lacks the bias of having a favorite pencil or brand.
My familiarity with the Palomino Blackwing 602 comes from arriving inside the MetalshopCT/Huckleberry Woodchuck collaboration of the machined bullet pencil. The bullet pencil became my pocket carry and was my most used pencil during my fountain pen fasting this past Lent. I had heard of Palomino pencils but had never purchased one because, well, I wasn't a fan of pencils. I had heard nothing but good things about the Palomino brand. So, I was looking forward to see how the pencil would perform. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.
Coming from two experiences of pencils, either yellow and faceted or brightly colored and cylindrica, the 602 is a pleasant surprise. It has gunmetal painting over the woodcasing. This keeps the pencil classy and understated. The bold lettering of the branding sits in nice comparison to the gunmetal color. It gives the look of a banker’s pencil (if bankers use pencil). It says, “I fool with gold but I’ll kill you if you touch it.” I guess it fits just as well in the hands of a thief.
What sticks out is the ferule (the metal piece at the end that holds the eraser) and eraser. Most pencils have the cylindrical ferule moving to a cylindrical eraser, but the Palomino Blackwing series turns that cylinder into a soft lined box that holds a rectangular eraser. I don’t know if there’s any practical reason for the design, but even so, it looks sweet. It allows the pencil to separate itself from the crowd. I also prefer the black eraser so that when wiping away the eraser particulates, if they fall on my clothing, they don’t immediately become unsightly on my black clothing.
On the ’back side’ of the pencil is embossed the phrase “HALF THE PRESSURE, TWICE THE SPEED.” I like the slogan. It is reminiscent of a bygone time when slogans weren’t merely in commercials or ridiculously bright signs, but on the products themselves. It shows the manufacturer takes pride in their product enough to spend time on a slogan for it. That gives me a greater indication I might be holding a quality product.
Because I am relatively unfamiliar with a wide variety of pencils, I can neither corroborate of deny the slogan. I can say that it requires minimal pressure to get lead down. The line does darken as you add more pressure. In that I do find a wonderful similarity to fountain pens. It was one of those welcome surprises during Lent. I definitely enjoy the fact, that like a fountain pen, I don’t have to use much pressure to write. That’s one of the things I really disliked about pencils.
The 602 doesn't put down the darkest line compared to other pencils I've seen, especially when I don't exert much pressure. That being said, it is still a good solid color, almost a matte version of the finish on the pencil.
Speaking of the finish, although it has a semi-metallic look to it, it sin't as slippery as metal is when gripping. It maintains decent gripability. The facets of the pencil help out with that. A gripe I have with all woodcased pencils I've used is that they are too skinny, even for my small hands. I would prefer something a bit wider. It being thin leads to quicker fatigue of my natural death grip.
The shape of the eraser gives the intimation that you can erase entire words in one motion. That is partly the case. You can erase something with a simple back and forth motion without having to rotate to get the whole word (that is unless you have large handwriting). The rubber is not terribly dense (although overly dense is another probelm), and I could find myself quickly going through the eraser. They do sell replacement eraser packs, but the slope of the ferule also disallows you from putting on a 3rd party eraser, say like the totally ineffective smiley face eraser we all purchased at school book fairs.
I don't know or understand pencil physics and exactly how lead is erasable, but I do know this. The lead/eraser combination of the Blackwing 602 does not remove all semblance of what was written. It does a decent job, but the eraser doesn't compare to Arnold Scwarzenegger (but then I might be setting my standards too high).
The paint on the outside of the woodcasing is soft. It isn't harsh or slippery. Compared to many fountain pens and the bullet pencil, it's super light. The writing is smooth with the slightest bit of feedback (which I would expect in a pencil). It's a bit longer than your normal no.2, but that really doesn't mean much unless you're a child. Well, the pencil is about the length of my forearm, so it might psychologically bother someone. The length, though, doens't effect the performance.
I feel a bit of a hypocrite at this point, but this isn't a cheap pencil at $21.95 for a box of twelve. They would be considered a premium pencil and so cost as much as 2 72 packs of Papermate woodcased pencils (in all honesty though I don't know enough or own enough to even compare the two). Here's where the hypocrisy comes in. I don't think I would buy them again. I don't think it's worth the price. I say that as someone who is not a pencil lover. At this time, my use doesn't justify the cost.
Is the Writing Reverenced?
To date, this is one of the finest pencils I have ever used. With that statement, I still don't like pencils. So I'm torn. Would I recommend this to others? Definitely. Do I consider it reverenced? No. I would still choose a fountain pen, any rollerball, and some ballpoints before picking this up. I don't apologize for my preference and you can tell me why I'm wrong below. All in all, this was still a penance. (the papermate pencil would have probably been moreso though).
Paper: maruman Mnemosyne 180 5mm squared